AIDS in Africa yes, Im sure youve heard about this most devastating plague that is killing more young people than all the wars of history put together. And those that remain live mostly a life of horror beyond imagination. But friends, were not talking about the masses or clumps of people. Were talking about individual children, with feelings and faces just like our own kids. Meet Siphso standing there amongst his classroom friends. Hes in the first semester of grade 9 and sat closer to the front as Operation Wholes team arrived for an Aids assembly at his High School of over 1000 students. Its not an ordinary community; this is a suburb of Johannesburg that is considered one of the worlds highest crime areas and one of the highest population density areas.
While setting up in preparation for the assembly, the riot squad arrived because of a life-death fight going on outside the door. We packed in only the grade 9s because of small room size and Siphso sat through most of it fiddling with a safety pin that he kept taking in and out from the hole in his ear. His face looked drawn, bored, and attention deficited, like he didnt want to be there. Our High School assemblies focus on the facts about Aids, STDs, how special each one is before God, and our God-given ability to make choices that can keep us from diseases such as AIDS and STDs. As always, after presenting the person of Jesus Christ and His love for each person, an altar call was given right in the classroom. Siphso didnt even appear to have listened to anything so seeing him stand up to ask for help after repeating the prayer for salvation, wasnt anticipated. We wondered, Does he underst whole thing? Approximately 97% of the students in the public schools responded for salvation during a period of two months of school ministry.
It was afterwards when Siphso came up to us privately, that we heard his desperate story (and that of so many precious African young people that our teams minister to on a weekly basis). Im the first born with 4 others and 6 cousins in our 1-room house (a shack); all the elders are dead I guess of AIDS. We cant eat; theres never any food so what else can we do but steal some and not let the police catch us. Thats not so bad, but to afford my school uniform and my books I just have to do it you know. We tried to get him to open up do what? Then the sordid story came out between sobs and fragmented muffled sentences. He sells his body to anybody (male or female) for a few cents when he has to, just to eat and get to school. The same goes for the rest of the household kids.
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